SIR – The question of a single service (Armed Forces could become single service, report, February 4) is not a pressing issue for the future of defence.
The Ministry of Defence is severely overcommitted, with the National Audit Office reporting a shortfall of £36 billion in the current 10-year equipment programme. Despite many initiatives in recent years, the defence environment, public-sector constraints and MoD processes only compound the problem.
Affordability, though, is a matter of political choice. The next government must put sufficient public money behind defence to meet Britain's aims on the international stage, or be bold enough to reduce that ambition. Defence is an expensive business and if we fail to invest properly then we put our Servicemen and women at increased risk.
Radical reform of acquisition and of the Ministry itself is now overdue. If we fail to tackle this, today's budget problems will quickly re-emerge. The MoD must consider – and implement – new ways of working. Most importantly, it must rethink fundamentally how to achieve the desired capability, based on a new set of planning assumptions that the forthcoming Strategic Defence Review must articulate.
Britain's defence industry is well placed to play a key role in reform, but must be supported by a new, and this time fully funded, defence industrial strategy.
General Sir Mike Jackson, Former Chief of the General Staff and Senior Adviser, PA Consulting Group and Nick Chaffey, Global Head of Defence and Security Consulting, PA Consulting Group